The Senate blue ribbon committee on Monday ordered the arrest of Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. and five other personalities after citing them for contempt for their continued refusal to attend the hearing of the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee on the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building II and other alleged anomalies despite the issuance of subpoenas and show-cause orders.
Senator Teofisto Guingona, chairman of the committee, granted the recommendation of Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, chairman of the subcommittee, to cite in contempt and order the arrest of Binay, City Administrator Eleno Mendoza, Eduviges “Ebeng” Baloloy, former City Administrator Marjorie de Veyra, Engineer Line Dela Peña, and Bernadette Portallano.
“I am ordering the Senate sergeant-at-arms to serve the detention order,” Guingona said.
Present at the meeting were Guingona, Pimentel and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
On the other hand, University of Makati president Tomas Lopez was not included in the order as he submitted a letter manifesting his willingess to attend the next hearing on Thursday.
In a letter dated Jan. 26, 2015 to the blue ribbon committee, Lopez said he did not ignore the different invitations and subpoena to attend the hearing. He said upon the advice of his lawyer, he merely requested that he be furnished questions so that he would be able to prepare beforehand.
“In view of the fact that these requests have been rejected by the subcommittee and against the advice of my lawyers, I would like now to manifest my intention to appear in the next hearing of the Blue Ribbon subcommittee,” Lopez stated in the letter.
Lopez is also a member of the board of directors of the Pag-IBIG fund.
During the meeting, Trillanes asked what would happen if Lopez will not appear on Thursday.
Pimentel said he would write another recommendation to the mother committee to cite Lopez in contempt “and no new letter could save him anymore.”
Junjun to tun himself in
Meanwhile at a press conference in Makati, Binay said he would turn himself in before the Senate committee.
“Hindi na po nila ako kailangang arestuhin. Tatalima po ako sa naging decision ng Senate blue ribbon committee … magpapa-detain po tayo,” Binay said.
“Maling mali ang ginagawa nila. Nung nagpunta ako dun (sa hearing) kinukutya nila tayo pero pinababayaan yung mga nagsisinungaling. Selective ang application ng rules,” he added.
Up to Sergeant-at-Arms
In an interview with reporters after the meeting, Guingona said the decision where Junjun Binay and the others will be detained will be up to the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms.
The Sergeant-at-Arms has detention facility near their office.
Asked what would happen once the personalities are arrested and presented at the hearing, Guingona said the subcommittee need to write another recommendation to lift the detention order.
“We have to follow the rules of the blue ribbon committee, we have to protect the institution of the Senate blue ribbon. Pagkatinawag ka ng blue ribbon, kung wala kang valid excuse, dapat sumipot ka, dapat magpakita ka. Rules are rules and they apply to everyone,” he said.
Binay attended the first hearing in August last year and answered the questions of senators but he was absent in the succeeding proceedings. The other Makati officials, on the other hand, were present in the following hearings. The officials refused to attend the subsequent hearings when they decided to challenge the jurisdiction of the committee.
In their respective letters explaining their continued absence, Binay, Baloloy, Mendoza, Lopez, De Veyra, and Dela Peña said they were merely availing of remedies under the Senate Rules and were constrained to file a jurisdictional challenge because their right to due process, to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise, among others, were being violated.
In addition, Binay, Baloloy, Mendoza and Lopez said they also requested that they be provided with the list of questions that would be asked of them. Such request was not granted by the subcommittee.
Portollano, in a letter sent to the subcommittee, said she was only a nominee of Marguerite Lichnock, one of the alleged dummies of Vice President Jejomar Binay, and she had no knowledge of the transactions which were the subject of the investigation.
Plunder raps vs. Binays
Mayor Binay, his father Vice President Jejomar Binay, and 21 other Makati officials are facing plunder charges in connection with the alleged overpricing in the construction of the Makati City Hall Building II.
In December, a second plunder complaint was filed against the Binays, some former and current Makati officials, and 10 executives of Hillmarc’s Construction Corp. over the alleged overpricing in the construction of the Makati Science High School.
Both complaints were filed by lawyer Renato Bondal.
The Binay camp has dismissed the complaints and the allegations against them as politically-motivated, claiming that these are intended to destroy the Vice President and diminish his chances in the 2016 presidential elections.